According to a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) published Thursday, “Palestinian authorities are systematically mistreating and torturing Palestinians in detention, including critics and opponents[.]” The report states that in 2021 the Palestinian national human rights organization received 252 complaints of torture and 279 complaints of arbitrary arrests in the West Bank, and 193 complaints of torture and 97 complaints of arbitrary arrests in the Gaza Strip. It also alleges that Hamas has, since 2007, executed 28 people in Gaza based on accusations of a political nature. The report claims this may rise to the level of crimes against humanity.
The report mainly centers around the suspicious death of West Bank opposition leader Nizar Banat. Banat vocally opposed the West Bank leadership and advocated for an international defunding of the police and security forces, citing human rights abuses by them. According to his family, he was beaten and taken by the security forces in the middle of the night. He died in custody under suspicious circumstances.
An investigation was opened into Banat’s death with low-level security officers being tried for murder; however, Amnesty International has criticized Palestinian authorities for not holding to account those responsible. On June 24, marking a year since Banat’s death, the rights organization released a scathing report, saying:
There needs to be a civilian trial following international standards, not just a smokescreen to protect those higher up. It is essential that the individuals who gave orders to arrest Nizar Banat for no lawful reason, and who oversaw the assault, are also held to account. Under international human rights law, cases involving human rights violations should be prosecuted in civilian courts, even if they involve members of the military.
The HRW report has been sent to the United Nations Committee on Torture for review.